On May 30, a crane being operated by an employee of a contracting company hired by a Florida electric utility to install new utility poles on streets in Lauderhill (a community west of Ft. Lauderdale) tipped over. The crane's boom, which had been extended about 100 feet into the air while in operation, crashed into two homes, injuring one resident and the crane operator.
Unfortunately, crane accidents are an all-too-common occurrence, often causing expensive damage, project delays, injury, and even death.
Coincidentally, 12 days prior to the accident, on May 18, OSHA issued a release, "OSHA Proposes Rule to Ensure Crane Operators Are Qualified To Safely Operate Equipment." In the release, OSHA announced it was proposing a new rule to increase the safety of cranes on the nation's construction sites.
"In addition to providing long-term clarity regarding crane operator certification requirements, the proposal reinstates the employer duty to ensure that a crane operator is qualified to safely operate equipment," states the release.
Under the proposed rule, a change to the categories of certification for crane operators would ensure more operators are able to meet the requirement. The proposal discontinues a 2010 requirement, which actually never went into effect, that crane operator certification must include the crane lifting capacity for which the operator is certified.
"The proposal would expand the type of certification program for crane operators," states the release.
In sum, the proposed rule, which was formally published in the Federal Register on May 21, is designed to permanently extend and clarify employers’ duties to ensure crane operators are competent to operate equipment through training, certification or licensing, and evaluation.
OSHA is accepting comments on this new proposed rule electronically, by fax, or by mail until June 20. For information on how to submit comments, go to: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/21/2018-10559/cranes-and-derricks-in-construction-operator-qualification.